Archive for January, 2011

Keep a Little Secret-Dorothy Garlock

January 31, 2011

Keep a Little Secret

Dorothy Garlock

Grand Central, Mar 21 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446540148

Charlotte Tucker grew up in her Aunt Louise’s boarding house in Carlson, Minnesota with no one her age.  By 1939 with dreams of seeing the world, Charlotte moves to Sawyer, Oklahoma to run her own schoolhouse.  She will live on the ranch owned by John Grant.  Excited over the prospect of independence, Charlotte adjusts rather easily with becoming a Sooner.

However, questionable accidents start occurring at Grant’s ranch.  The prime suspect is Charlotte’s friend Owen Wallace who accompanied by his sister came from Colorado after their mother’s death; he has a grudge against Grant.  After their mom died, Owen and his twin sister Hannah searched for their father.  They believe that man who raped their mom is Grant.  As the war overseas beckons and the weather worsens, Charlotte refuses to believe Owen would attack Grant and remains convinced she is right when someone assaults her.

The sequel to Stay a Little Longer continues the adventures of Charlotte who has relocated to Oklahoma.  The story line contains a fully developed cast of characters inside of an exciting suspenseful historical plot.  However, it is rural Oklahoma coming out of the Great Depression just before America’s entry into WWII that makes this a winner as readers will “know we belong to the land; and the land we belong to is grand” (“Oklahoma” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II).

Harriet Klausner

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Harvest Moon-Robyn Carr

January 31, 2011

Harvest Moon

Robyn Carr

Mira, Feb 22 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778329428

In San Francisco Kelly Matlock has a breakdown of sorts as she is unable to handle the stress of working as a sous chef nor deal any long with her relationship with internationally renowned boss Luciano Brazzi when his wife Olivia demands she not sleep with her husband; Kelly says she is not sleeping with Luca though she admits to herself she is in love with her boss.  Olivia says Luca sent her to clean up his latest mess.  Unable to cope she has an anxiety attack that has her rushed to the emergency room.  After being released and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and flattened molars made worse by a broken heart and by her immediate boss Durant, Kelly flees to hide and heal at her sister Jillian’s home in Virgin River.

Though she knows better, Kelly still under the influence of Valium stops at Jack’s for a courage drink though she knows better than to mix alcohol and medicine.  Widower Leif Holbrook the screenwriter rescues her from herself; having practice with his stepdaughter Courtney.  Kelly and Leif are attracted to one another, but she remains hurt from her previous relationship and he is fathering a rebel with one cause of no other woman in their home.

The latest trip to Virgin River is an engaging contemporary romance that in spite of a plot used many times feels brisk and fresh due to the strong cast as each of the lead trio has belonging issues.  Character driven, readers will enjoy the return to Virgin River as different types of love blossoms in the gardens under a Harvest Moon.

Harriet Klausner

Against the Law-Kat Martin

January 31, 2011

Against the Law

Kat Martin

Mira, Feb 22 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9780778329404

Handbag designer Lark Delaney desperately wants to find her niece adopted by strangers as her sister Heather was only sixteen when she gave birth.  She pleads with thirty something Devlin Raines at his Arizona ranch to help her.  Mentioning that his Army Ranger buddy Madman Monroe sent him saying he owed him, reluctantly as he has retired from field work the Raines Investigation analyst agrees to make inquiries.

Devlin assumes this will be a quick search, but is stunned when his assumption proves false as his friend expert Chaz Denton searches the net only to find Loving Home Adoptions not licensed in Arizona, but gives him a printing clue to begin a search for Mrs. Olcott who arranged the adoption.  Following the trail, Dev accompanied by Lark go from Southern California to Mexico with each clue making both fear for the child.  The case has turned personal for Dev who cares for the child he has not met fearing she has been sold into sexual slavery and especially for the frantic aunt who begged him to find her.

The third Raines of Wind Canyon romantic suspense thriller (see Against the Fire and Against the Wind) is a terrific tense tale filled with twists and spins as nothing goes according to Raines’ plan.  He, like his older brothers, is a strong hero, but has met his equal in Lark who fearlessly stomps on snakes.  Timely with the plight of young females being sold, readers will root for the pair to rescue her niece as we fear what has happened to that little girl.

Harriet Klausner

Antiques Knock-Off-Barbara Allan

January 31, 2011

Antiques Knock-Off

Barbara Allan

Kensington, Mar 1 2011, $22.00

ISBN 9780758234230

Overlooking the Mississippi in the quaint town of Serenity antique expert Brandy Borne begins to understand what the sandwich generation means.  As a surrogate mother she is seven months pregnant; at the same time she keeps a close watch on her bipolar mother, Vivian.  Brandy is also dating the town’s Chief of Police Tony Cassato.

Someone stabs Connie Grimes in the chest.  Vivian confesses to having committed the murder; as Connie used to work for Brandy’s biological father, a U.S. senator.  Vivian goes to jail where another prisoner might have witnessed the homicide.  Brandy, accompanied by Sushi the shih tzu, investigates the case involving the Mafia and a horde of cats surrounding a New Age hypnotist.

Putting aside clever advice on collecting, the latest Trash ‘n’ Treasures antiques amateur sleuth is the usual zany, eccentric and far from serenity tale (see Antiques Flee Market and Antiques Bizarre) as once again mom is in the middle of an uproar.  The brisk story line is fine to follow as the heroine has a more reliable partner (Sushi) this time than she did in Antiques Bizarre (mom).  Sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining amusing whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

This Side of the Grave-Jeaniene Frost

January 31, 2011

This Side of the Grave

Jeaniene Frost

Avon, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780091783180

In Ohio Ghouls have been attacking vampires without Masters.  There is a fear of a species war exploding unless the assaults ends.  Vampire couple Cat and Bones head to the Buckeye State to prevent the deadly combat.  Once the notorious half-breed government agent the Red Reaper who destroyed vampires Cat has evolved into a full Undead, but has skills no one has seen since the death in medieval times of Joan of Arc. 

Apollyon the Ghoul insists that Cat is proof that the vampires are trying to take over the world starting with his species.  Marie Laveau the Ghoul feels yanked in two directions that have friends and foes wondering who she sides with while Cat’s mother has turned into a vampire at a time when all hell is breaking loose within her family and across the paranormal communities.  Only with Bones does Cat feel comforted, but has little time for that respite.

The Night Huntress urban fantasy (see Destined for an Early Grave) continues one of the better series as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the prime theme of the likely hellish paranormal species war.  The cast that runs the species gamut is fully developed while the lead heroes struggle with preventing a nasty war; as each has come a long way from innocence and uncle dearest.  Fast-paced and loaded with non-stop action, readers will appreciate Jeaniene Frost’s aptly titled exhilarating thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Outside In-Maria V. Snyder

January 31, 2011

Outside In

Maria V. Snyder

Harlequin Teen, Feb 15 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210114

Trella led the Scrubs revolt that turned her world upside down as she and her rebels defeated the Uppers who previously ruled the world.  After the victory, she and others learn of the existence of the Outside world. 

Excited Trella plans to go back to being a quiet citizen living with her Upper, Riley.  However, winning at war is not governance as those now in charge learn.  Additionally something from Outside wants to enter; forcing Trella out of her short lived teenage retirement to unite her friends to prevent whatever from outer Outside achieving In.

The sequel to Inside Out targets older middle and younger high school students with an intriguing complex story line as the heroine learns what relativity means as Outside meant outside her cube, but now knows there is outside the outside.  There is less action than in the previous revolt against the dystopian society, but teen readers still will enjoy this exciting science fiction tale as Maria V. Snyder once again avoids dumbing down her complex premise treating young readers with respect as the author further complicates Trella’s run.

Harriet Klausner

Rogue Oracle-Alayna Williams

January 31, 2011

Rogue Oracle

Alayna Williams

Juno, Feb 22 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439182819

Criminal profiler Tara Sheridan is an expert forensic psychologist who enhances her abilities with tarot card readings.   However her skills failed her when a psychopath nearly killed her.  Shaken to her bone marrow, Tara resigns from her position at the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Special Projects” unit.

Recently several of the unit’s former operatives have vanished under strange circumstances.  Tara’s former lover Harry Li asks for her help on his investigation partly because he needs her special skills and partly to keep her safe.  The clues lead to Chernobyl where the pair tries to prevent a second catastrophe from occurring.  At the same time Tara struggles with her dubious relationship with Delphi’s Daughters especially their chief.

This is an engaging thriller due more to the fascinating villain who steals the show because the motives that drive the adversary ring true.  In her second profiling appearance (see The dark Oracle) Tara is an intriguing blending of science and pseudoscience as she combines the paranormal with the profiling normal.  Although at times the plot slows down and the ending is too low key after a Chernobyl II countdown, readers will find themselves zoning out during long expository passages, and a very anticlimactic ending leaves you with a sense of dissatisfaction. Still, the great villain and good visual descriptions keep this from being a total loss.

Harriet Klausner

Living on the Edge-Shannon K, Butcher

January 30, 2011

Living on the Edge

Shannon K, Butcher

Signet, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451232748

Lucas Ramsey left the military due to a severe injury.  However, when his former superior officer The old man orders him to protect Sloane Gideon with his life, he asks no questions and begins his duty.  However the Old Man omits two pieces of key information when a shooting occurs at a gala where Lucas planed to meet Sloane who marked him as Mr. Tuxedo.  First her occupation is personal protection as she works as a bodyguard for the Edge; and second she is the Old Man’s daughter.  It is the latter that shakes Lucas as he cannot picture the cold logical General with an offspring.

Columbian drug cartel leader Lorenzo Soma abducts Sloane’s friend Gina who called last night explaining her frightening predicament before the phone was taken away.  Mr. Tuxedo tries to stop Sloane from boarding a plane, but she knocks him out with a blow to his temple.  Having underestimating Sloane, he follows her to Colombia with the Old Man’s warning him to play hardball with his daughter.  The former Ranger catches up to her in South America where she accepts his offer of assistance as she wonders why Soma kidnapped her best friend and how will she extract Gina from this cold blooded killer; Lucas wonders how to extract Sloane from Columbia when she insists on a jungle expedition.

This is romantic suspense at its exhilarating best from the start at the gala and to the final confrontation.  Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will enjoy the trek to Columbia with the capable independent kick butt (and temple) heroine and her sidekick while demanding more thrillers over the Edge from Shannon K. “Sentinels Wars” Butcher.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Bird-Chris Knopf

January 30, 2011

Bad Bird

Chris Knopf

Minotaur, Feb 1 2011, $25.99

ISBN 9780312551247

Southampton. Long Island attorney Jackie Swaitkowski leans on a fence watching show horses run around in a field when she notices a small plane out of control.  She calls 911 as a metal camera case flies out of the pilot’s door.  The plane crashes moments later.  Jackie retrieves the case and removes a memory card from it as if the pilot was tossing that to her.  First responders from around the Hamptons arrive at the scene, but the Cessna female pilot is dead.

Having met a man claiming to be the husband of the pilot before he fled the crash scene, Jackie Googles for names of female local pilots and finds Eugenie Birkson owner of a Cessna taxi service; her husband Ed is a mechanic.  The memory card contains strange photos in which she recognizes some of the people in them including a few to close to home.  Ed hires Jackie to defend him when the National Transportation Safety Board ill mannered agent investigates.  Jackie soon learns the near fatal way that someone wants that memory card destroyed and is willing to kill again to achieve that objective.

The latest Swaitkowski thriller (see Short Squeeze) is an engaging tale that starts off with quite a bang and never slows down.  Once again (as Police officer Sullivan knows from his experiences with her) Jackie ignores the law when she takes the memory card.  Fast-paced throughout,  readers who enjoy their lawyers to be different will appreciate the pot smoking and hard drinking Swaitkowski.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Lies-Cynthia Eden

January 30, 2011

Deadly Lies

Cynthia Eden

Forever, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446559256

A predatory psychopath devastated FBI Serial Service Division Special Agent Samantha Kennedy.  The Fed slowly heals mentally while her superior Hyde has doubts with her being on the Jeremy Briar vicious murder case as he sent her into that Phoenix fiasco.  Although she conceals her trepidations behind a badge of confidence that she knows is false; Hyde remains hesitant that she is capable of performing her field work at this time.

Sam meets and is attracted to Max Ridgeway.  She uses sex with Max to regain her self esteem.  However, she keeps vanishing almost immediately after and refuses to tell him anything about herself.  When someone kidnaps Max’s younger brother for ransom, Sam gets involved; leaving Max to wonder who his beloved truly is.

The third Deadly SSD police procedural romance  is a powerful thriller due to the spotlight on Samantha, a secondary player in the previous entries (see Deadly Fear and Deadly Heat) whose teammates and superior worry she does not have what it takes anymore; she uses sex to keep the demons away.  However, though she struggles with trepidation, this time Max who refuses to allow her to run away from him is her impetus.  With an unexpected potentially deadly twist enhancing the suspense, this is a great entry in a fantastic series with Monica on deck.

Harriet Klausner